National Coming day was 11 October. I know this is late, but I like to make an entrance – and it’s never too late to come out.
My coming out was somewhat complex. To save time, I will give a short snippet of my experience. On 24 March, 2013 I came up with this crazy idea to write a letter to my mother explaining I was gay. At the time I was writing the letter, I was confident and ready to face whatever came of my badly thought out letter.
I printed two copies – one for my mother and one for the police to find (just in case). At around 5am the next morning, I slipped the letter on her dresser. I snuck off to school and counted every minute before I had to return home.
When I came home, all was normal but in an uneasy way. Later that night, I had to confront her because I was worried she was in denial. We had a very long talk. It was not a good talk, but one that needed to be had. The rest is history. I wouldn’t change it for the world because it shaped who I am.
Coming out is very personal. There are no hard and fast rules. Nevertheless, here are the things I learned, which might help you have the best worst experience of your life.
1. Crack the door a little.
During my coming out, I found out there were people who knew and understood my struggle. Finding support and someone to talk to makes the journey less scary. Having company in the closet made me feel less isolated. It’s not easy and it can get confusing. Having someone to answer the hard questions makes it a lot less confusing. Look for likeminded people online and in safe, supportive environments.
What you’ll soon learn is that coming out is a series of revelations about yourself. You will come out in big ways and in small ways – probably for the rest of your life. You will come out to family, friends, people you meet in the street, work colleagues, bank managers, insurance salesmen, travel agents, mortgage advisors… anyone you feel needs to know your sexuality at that moment in time. But every time you come out it becomes less scary, and every time you share your concerns they seem less daunting.
2. Let yourself be ready.
There are many instances of people being forced to come out. It’s your choice and nobody else’s. Don’t let someone take it away from you. If it takes five days or five years, you’ll know when it feels right. It might be scary at first, but confidence will grow over time.
People need time to be comfortable in their sexuality and you shouldn’t feel like the time to come out has to be now or even tomorrow. Young or old, the perfect time is your time. Come out to who you need to, one person at a time, on your own schedule.
3. Document it.
For the few months it took me to come out, I wrote down what happened each day. It’s great to look back and see the gradual transformation that has been ongoing in myself. You can catch all the little victories and not so victorious moments. Writing allowed me to reflect as I was living my coming out experience. You might choose to document it another way – through song, film, art or dance – but why not give it a go and see how coming out has helped you?
4. Make it fun.
After a while, it gets tiresome telling people the same thing. Add some flare to your ‘I’m queer’ speeches to keep yourself entertained. Put it on a cake, make a game, hand out homemade cards, anything. Coming out should be celebratory and uplifting. Have fun while doing it. Besides, who doesn’t like cake?
It’s not always a walk in the park to come out but if we smile we can make that journey a little easier. Not everybody I told understood, and sadly I lost many people in my life. I smile, though, because I made so many lasting relationships. People I can count on through thick and thin. I smile because there are LGBT+ individuals in the world who don’t have the luxury of coming out. I smile because coming out may one day be a thing of the past. I smile because I can be me. Along the way, just smile.